Home Buying in 33139>Question Details

Justine, Home Buyer in Miami Beach, FL

Do the previous owner's code violations affect me?

Asked by Justine, Miami Beach, FL Tue Nov 13, 2007

We are looking at a home in Miami Beach with a history of code violations with the City. How do I know if these issues are properly resolved? Don't want to have to deal with the previous owner's history if buy this place!

Help the community by answering this question:


In a word - Yes. Even if you are willing to "overlook" some violations and hope that the city doesn't catch up with you, if you ever intend to sell the house your new buyers will want an assurance (in writing) that you are in compliance with all city and county codes and have obtained the proper permits for any improvements. Now is the time to exercise due diligence and contact the local authorities to be sure all permits for work were obtained and closed out... We are in a buyer's market now so take your time to do it right!
Web Reference: http://LisaSpencerHomes.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 13, 2007
Justine - As Ines and Lisa mentioned you will have to deal with owner's history. Being a resident of Miami Beach I have dealt with this firsthand. Ines is right... you need to (CMB) City of Miam Beach to get records on any open permits and/or violations.

You will need to go to two departments 1) Building Dept and 2) Code Compliance.
I can tell you from experience that if their are any open permits with the Building Dept., it could be a hassle to get them closed. Any open permits can only be closed by the Contractor that opened them. Meaning you would need to track down that contractor and have them close the permit themselves and hopefully the contractor is still in business.

Make sure that once you get a list of what permits and/or violations remain open, you also find out the cost to get them resolved as this could affect your decision to buy.

Good Luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 14, 2007
Thank you so much everyone
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 14, 2007
Justine - you should take a trip to the city of Miami Beach to see exactly what permits are open and what code violations are pending with the home. When doing a title search, title companies are no longer required to look into open permits and code violations (some do), which means the new buyer will be ultimately responsible.
Miami Beach imposes daily fines for code violations that are not addressed, but they will negotiate those fees down if the owner makes an attempt to resolve the issues.

Let me also add that any additions done without permits, not only become the new owner's problem, but it may mean having to "undo" the construction. If you know there is a problem, you will save yourself a lot of headaches by going to the city and pulling the home's file.

Hopefully the violations will be minor or non-existent and you will be able to proceed without a problem.
Good Luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 13, 2007
Florida is a "buyer beware" state, which means that you need to do your due diligence before purchasing the property. All code violations, liens, etc will be your responsibility. When your title company starts doing a title search, violations should come up and depending on how your purchase contract was drafted or whether you are buying with a bank loan, the seller will have to clear those faults or not before closing.
I am also an architect and can tell you that the city of Miami Beach will let you know what violations are present and as the answer before me states, depending on violation, you will be able to negotiate those.
It is definitely in your best interest to have seller resolve any issues with the city prior to closing.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 31, 2012
As an architect I deal with code violations everyday. Unfortunately when you buy the property you buy the code violations too , however, most of the fines can be negotiated down if you can prove that you are acting swiftly in resolving the issues... Such as hiring an architect or contractor and submitting for permits.
Orlando Lamas
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 31, 2012
In a word: "absolutely"!

These pesky violations can often be difficult to uncover and even tricker to satisfy. If there was ever anything that could be "grandfathered in", is your inheritance of any violations or open permits any previous owner has left behind.

Although a home in this condition could be a great bargain (after all, violations could be a great way to pick up a property at a deeper discount), one must know how to properly take care of it or know the right people that can help you with it.

A good title agent or closing attorney may be able to help you uncover these. Some may be easy to cure, while others may be deal killers. Just make sure you follow all previous advice.

Just don't back out yet. If you really like the property, tie it up with an offer if you have to, then make sure that during your inspection period, you bring a good inspector and even a reputable contractor to help you evaluate the extent of the work required to cure a violation or close an open permit. These experts will also help you uncover any other potential issues that you should watch for.

Then, do the math, renegotiate your offer or move on.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 6, 2008
In the contract for purchase and sale, have your agent or attorney address this matter specifically. Perhaps, even holding funds in escrow to cover the possible costs to remedy the code violations or cost to cure. From my experience, the violations would carry forward from the previous owner. The violations are attached to the property, not the current or previous owner.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2007
If the roof leaked when they bought it and never fixed it would you still get wet when it rains?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 14, 2007
Good Luck! Hope everything turns out ok for you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 14, 2007
Glad we could help Justine !

Please let us know how this turns out for you
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 14, 2007
contact the city or county to see if code violations have been resolved. It is a matter of public record.

Aside from that, if you move forward without proper paperwork of resolved issues, it could be a problem for you down the road.

Having said that: ARE these issues a real problem? ie: if you bought the house anyway, could you fix these problems with little cash? If so.....move on. If you aren't sure or don't want to take the chance, then seek council from a real estate attorney or a good agent in your area.

It all starts with knowing what the violations are.......so get that from your city or county and then make your decision.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 13, 2007
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